Monday, April 30, 2012

Quote Catch-Up

I noticed that I was slightly behind when I found quotes from as far back as February in my notebook. As far as I can tell, these haven't gotten posted in blog format yet. (Or, at least most of them have not. I know the Easter bunny comment was, but I am still including it.) As you can see, Mia is getting some interesting "ideas" and Logan is in a snot-eating phase.

"Okay, Mom, here's my idea: you either give me a treat or we do a craft." ~ Mia (2/2/12) -- Obviously, we did a craft.

"Me love you Mommy." ~ Logan (2/2/12) -- Even though he gave away our hiding spot, how could I be upset? He is such a sweetheart.

Mia overheard us discussing our brackets and asked, "Mama, how come you pick-ed the 'tucky?" (3/12/12)

While reading a bedtime book, Logan sneezed. I said, "Ew. Do you want to get a tissue?" He replied, "No. Me lick it up." (3/25/12)

"Mom, I wish you were the Easter Bunny." When I asked why, Mia said, "because you make the best Easter eggs in the whole world." (3/26/12)

"Snowflakes? No way! It's already spring. Snow shouldn't be falling!" ~ Mia (4/10/12)

"I got an idea and nobody's gonna get hurt. I promise!" ~ Mia (4/18/12) -- Overheard while she was tying a jump rope around the play structure and all I thought was, "famous last words."

"Are all cats girls?" ~ Mia (4/18/12)

Me: "What are you eating?"
Logan: "Something from my nose." {Demonstrates picking his nose and eating the booger.} (4/20/12) -- Obviously, ignorance is bliss.

"I'm the fastest cowgirl in the West, Mama." ~ Mia (4/22/12) -- While playing dress-up.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Stamped Art with Pencil Erasers

  • paper
  • ink pad/s
  • pencils with new erasers
  1. Press pencil eraser onto ink pad. 
  2. Stamp onto paper. Have fun!
You can experiment with different colors and designs. Repeated stamping produces lighter and lighter shades, which can be visually interesting. I would suggest this craft for preschoolers and older. (Logan, age 2, got a bit frustrated because he couldn't stamp full dots very well, and he gave up quickly.) Note: The stamp pad (see photo above) has gotten a bit messy over time with kid usage, so this wasn't a big deal, but if you like your colors to stay neat and clean, you may not want to do this with little ones. This was another cute idea I found on Pinterest.

{Mia's Dot-to-Dot Creation}
{Mia's Dotty Patterns}

Make Your Own: Finger Paint

{To get these colors: 5 drops blue, 5 drops yellow, purple (which looks more blue in picture than actuality) = 3 drops neon purple + 2 drops blue, 5 drops red}


  • 2 Cups water
  • 1/2 Cup corn starch
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • food coloring
  • containers with lids
  • small sauce pan
  • spoons for mixing colors

Directions: (makes about 2 cups)

  1. Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan. Kids can help with this part.
  2. Adults Only: On stove top, warm until mixture thickens. I did this on medium heat until it looked like glue.
  3. Pour into containers. (We used four Glad 1/2 cup plastic containers.)
  4. Add food coloring to get desired colors. Mix each color with a spoon.
  5. Let finger paint cool before giving to kids to use.

{Abstract Art by Mia, Age 5}
I originally found this idea on Pinterest. I think the consistency is perfect for finger painting. It is simple to make with items you probably have on hand anyway, and it's always nice to know exactly what is in stuff that your kids may happen to eat. (I'm not suggesting that it is edible, just that it is made from things I wouldn't freak out about if my kiddos happened to taste it -- which Logan is pretty likely to do at some point, although he is currently averse to finger painting.) If you enjoy making your own finger paints, you might also like making puffy paint, corn syrup paint, snow paint, or bath tub paint.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Not That I'm Keeping Score...

But if I were, I would say: Mama's mini-van 1, Logan's tricycle 0.

{No children were harmed in the mangling of this trike's back right wheel.}

{You know, it doesn't look so bad in the photo, but it's no longer "driveable."}

What kills me is that this was the only brand new set of wheels that anybody in our family has ever owned, and I was the one who wrecked it. To add insult to injury, Radio Flyer offers the replacement wheel online for $13 and then charges $7 for shipping. Seriously? That's half the cost of the part. So, so annoying. Of course, my hubby, God bless him, saw that I was upset, and took care of ordering the replacement wheel before telling me this. Not that I don't appreciate his wanting to help. I just can't help but feel like we're being taken for a ride.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter Eggs Everywhere

Considering that nobody really ate our colored eggs this year, it seems like we are overly obsessed with Easter eggs. (Actually, I take that back. Earlier, I caught the dog standing in our outdoor trash can, which had tipped over from the wind. And she was eating -- you guessed it -- all of those forgotten hard boiled eggs that I had just pitched. Wanna bet I will not be having a fun evening when those catch up with her?) Hard boiled eggs are fun to decorate, but maybe we should stick to other goodies in the future.

For example, we made our Jell-o eggs, as we always do. They were a hit as usual. You pretty much can't go wrong with kids and finger Jell-o.

{Mmmmm..... raspberry!}

{He likes almost anything he can eat with his hands.}

For something new this year, we tried the Rice Krispie treat eggs, which weren't quite as successful. They're supposed to have M & M's inside. I was lucky just to get Rice Krispie treats that somewhat resembled eggs, and there was no way the kids could really help. It was a sticky mess, one that I will not be repeating any time soon. Word of warning: these things always sound easier than they actually are. The good news is that they taste fine, unless, of course, you ask Logan his opinion. Even though he LOVES Rice Krispies and marshmallows, he apparently does not like them together. Weird.

Okay, you can't eat it, but I LOVE this paint chip Easter egg garland that I made, so I will likely be making one or two more of them for around the house. It's an ingenious way to use up something I had been saving until I had a project idea, and so, so very adorable. This is easy, but a bit time-consuming, and definitely an adult-only project.

As for the actual eggs, we tried some different techniques, some more successful than others... For some reason, I thought that if we stamped on circles of glue, with foam paintbrushes, we could add glitter and have nice glittery circles on our eggs. In actuality, they dribbled and weren't really circles, but all that glitters makes Mia happy so no harm done. Next, we added the glitter that was left on the plate, to some purple poster paint and applied that. (I don't suggest doing this even though it was easy, and washable. I thought they were dry, but somehow they got moist again in the refrigerator, so when I went to peel some to eat, paint got smeared all over the place.)

{Purple + glitter = one happy little girl}
Here is what I think is a great idea, and I am pleased I thought of it: decorate eggs with Bingo markers. So simple, even the littlest egg decorators can do it, and it's fairly mess-free.

{Need something to rest your eggs on while they dry? Cut up toilet paper tubes work perfectly and they are very cheap!}

I wish our tie-dyed eggs came out a little clearer, but I do like this technique that we have tried in the past, and brought back again this year. I have done it two ways: dye and then wrap with rubber bands and dye again or wrap first, dye, let dry, and dye a second time. I'm not sure if I have a preference or not.

{There are only so many ways you can get a rubber band to stay on an egg.}

{Our finished tie-dyed eggs}
{My "egg-cited" little helpers}

After tie-dying some eggs, we had dye left over, so we made some coffee filter carnations. They look nice as a centerpiece.

The last of the dye went toward a science experiment. We used it to dye some real carnations. Mia loved this even though they aren't as brightly colored as our paper bouquet.

As much as I am thinking we should avoid decorating hard boiled eggs next year, I am sure we will be doing it. And more likely than not, we'll be trying out more new ideas. I can't seem to not try new craft ideas when they come along. Plus, Mia will expect it. She told me recently, "Mom, I wish you were the Easter Bunny." When I asked why, she replied, "Because you make the best Easter eggs in the whole world!" How can I not at least attempt to live up to her expectations?

Beaded Clothespin Butterflies

I think this has to be one of my favorite crafts that we have ever done. Not only are they cute, but even my Little Man could thread his own beads onto the pipe cleaners (while I held the pipe cleaner) so this is really a craft that can be done with almost any age group. The only part I had to do was assembling the butterflies. This was a great way to occupy our time on this very windy and somewhat rainy day. I could also see making these butterflies for Easter or for Mother's Day gifts. Here is where I found the idea for this (floating around on Pinterest).

{A couple of Mia's butterflies}

{Beaded Butterfly by Logan, Age 2 1/2}
  • wooden clothespin
  • 3 pipe cleaners
  • scissors
  • plastic beads
  • acrylic paint
  • paint brush
  • something to hold paint
  • glue (hot glue is recommended)
  • wax paper (optional)
  • fishing line (optional)

1) Paint a wooden clothespin as desired. Set aside to dry. Tip: I suggest doing this on wax paper, especially if you are painting all sides of the clothespin. It won't stick as much as it would if you laid it to dry on newspaper. Tip: Acrylic paint stains clothing so have kids wear old clothes or protect clothing before starting.

2) Leaving about one inch uncovered on either end, string beads onto a pipe cleaner. Repeat with a second pipe cleaner. Tip: I found the easiest way to do this was to bend it upward at the end so that the last inch wasn't available for the kids to put beads on. This also prevented beads with larger openings from sliding off the ends (not a big issue, but still it could be helpful.)

3) Cut the last pipe cleaner in half. Bend it in half for the butterfly's antennae. Thread a bead onto each end and wrap around to secure if desired. (Some beads may stick well on their own. You can also add glue if you like.)

4) Making the wings is the trickiest part. (The blog post this idea came from said to make a figure 8, which took me some trial and error, so I will try to make the directions as clear as possible.) Take one beaded pipe cleaner and form a circle.

Then take slightly more than 1/2 on top pull it into a small circle and bring the end over to the rest of the pipe cleaner. Fit the end in between two beads and loop it tightly around one time, making sure that the end sticks off the side that will be on the inside of your butterfly. Now you have something that looks like a lowercase "g."

Bring the other end up to meet the beads where you just twisted the pipe cleaner. Again, loop the end around and make sure that it is secured around both sections of the beaded pipe cleaner. Loop around again if needed. Now you have a sort of figure 8 with a one oval larger than the other. To me, it looks a bit like a capital "J" in cursive handwriting.

That's the first wing. Repeat step 4 with the other beaded pipe cleaner to make the second wing. Congratulations! The hard part is over.

5) Once clothespin is dry, pinch it open, add a drop of white glue or hot glue, and insert center of pipe cleaner antennae. The pipe cleaner antennae will be held in place once the clothespin is closed.

6) To attach the wings, put glue into both sides of the spring on the clothespin. Tip: Hot glue works best. Of course, this should only be used by an adult. Then, insert pipe cleaner ends into each side of the spring. Tip: You may wish to trim the ends first if they appear too long. Another suggestion is to add more hot glue as needed if the wings don't seem sturdy enough.

{I know I shouldn't brag, but isn't my butterfly so darn cute?!}

{"Princess" the Butterfly by Mia, Age 5}
7) Allow glue to dry before displaying your butterfly. I hung our butterflies from the dining room chandelier. To do this, I took a length of fishing line, and placed the clothespin in the center. Then I tied it around and knotted it off so that the fishing line was nestled into the groove. Lastly I took the two ends of fishing line, threaded them both through the an arm of the chandelier, and secured them with a double knot. I repeated this for all 5 of our butterflies.

{I love how they flutter in the breeze when we walk by.}

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Salt Watercolor" Paintings

I have been having the kids try out as many different painting techniques as I can find. This was another fun one that is more about the process than the final results. (Like the corn syrup paintings, these paintings don't have much staying power so you can't really save them, but they are simple and neat to make.) The only problem I found is that my kids were perhaps a bit too young to understand how to paint with watercolors and not end up dissolving the salt in the process. I would suggest that this would work better for elementary age kids and up. Here is where I found the idea for this painting project.

{It's really fun to watch the watercolors quickly spread over the raised texture.}
  • boxboard (or paper)
  • white glue
  • salt
  • watercolor paints
  • paintbrush
  • tray for doing project on (optional)
{Logan, age 2, is obviously a bit young for this.}
  1. Before starting, I suggest doing this on a tray. We used baking sheets. Place your boxboard (or paper) onto the tray.
  2. Have your child draw a design using white glue.
  3. Help your child pour a generous amount of salt to cover all of the glue. (I found it was most effective if the glue ended up looking at least twice as thick as before adding salt.) Note: This is where the tray comes in handy. Just brush aside the excess salt and save for the next project. You won't end up with a mess all over you table.
  4. Dip the paintbrush into the watercolors and then gently touch it to the salt/glue mixture. Do not press down or use brushstrokes because the salt will dissolve and make a mess.
  5. Allow the paintings to dry so you can compare how they look wet versus dry. You probably won't be able to save them, however. We found that they got pretty flaky once dry.

{Mia's Painting ~ Still Wet}
{Dry Painting by Mia, Age 5}  

Grass Guy

Mia refers to this cute little fellow as "Grass Guy." This is the second year in a row she has come home from preschool with one of these little "homemade Chia Pets." The kids plant grass seeds during the "Watch it Grow" unit and bring it home sometime after giving them their first "haircuts." I love the simplicity. All you need is a paper cup, some soil, grass seeds, googly eyes, pom pom nose, and half circle of paper for the mouth. She loves watering "Grass Guy," and she's eagerly awaiting his next "haircut."

{Update: Grass Guy's hair was getting long...}

{So, Mia gave him a trim. -- April 29, 2012}

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Butterfly Foot Print Paintings

When I saw these butterfly foot print paintings, I knew we had to make some since they are so cute and we love butterflies. I can see them as an Easter craft, Mother's Day craft, or just a nice craft for spring. They could easily be framed to make nice wall art.

{Footprint Butterfly by Mia, Age 5}
{Footprint Butterfly by Logan, Age 2 1/2}
  • paper
  • foam paintbrushes
  • acrylic paint
  • Styrofoam trays
  • black permanent marker
  • newspaper to protect work surface
  • old towels, paper towels, baby wipes, etc.
  1. Before starting this project get ready for a potential mess by protecting your work surface with newspaper. (Note: I recommend doing this on your dining room floor.) Cover kids clothing or have them wear old clothes as acrylic paints will stain. Be sure to have old towels, paper towels or baby wipes handy for quick clean up. (You definitely do not want kids running away with messy feet!)
  2. The original picture I found of this craft was using canvases, which would be nice, but I didn't have any. I used white cardstock which I had on hand. Lay the paper on top of the newspaper.
  3. Pour about 3 or 4 paint colors of your child's choosing onto a Styrofoam tray (reused from meat packaging) or a plate. Have your child sit in a chair near the paper and paint the colors onto the bottom of one foot using a large foam paintbrush. (I had my kids tell me their preference for the order of the colors first.) Help child off chair and press his foot firmly onto the paper. Note: The placement of the feet is opposite of the way they would naturally be standing. (The left footprint becomes the right wing of the butterfly and the right footprint becomes the left wing.) Be sure to plan accordingly so that you have enough room on your paper for both prints.
  4. Clean the bottom of the foot and repeat with the other foot. Try to place the footprints as closely together as possible.
  5. Apply some paint to your child's thumb and make two impressions above the wings for the ends of the antennae. Allow paint to dry completely.
  6. Using a permanent black marker, draw the butterfly's head, antennae, and body, including a face, if desired. (Note: I realized after doing this that our butterflies weren't truly anatomically correct since they should only have a head and 2 other body segments, but I was doing my best to close the gaps between the footprints. If you are inclined, you can make your butterflies more scientific, but I think ours turned out nicely.)  

Corn Syrup Painting

Here is a messy, but fun idea for painting using items you probably already have in your pantry. We did this indoors with lots of newspaper to protect everything. (Just don't allow paper to dry on the newspaper because it will likely stick.) You could also do this outside on a warmer day, which I think would be ideal. The only problem is that I was afraid to display these paintings when they were finished because I didn't want to attract ants or just plain have a runny, sticky disaster on the walls. I would say this project is about the process more than the finished product. (By the way, the finished product takes about a day to dry.) The colors are brilliant and in the end, the paintings are shiny and quite attractive, but I wouldn't suggest saving them for posterity. The idea for this one comes from here.

{"Daddy on a Summer Day" by Mia, Age 5}

  • paper
  • crayon
  • corn syrup
  • bowls
  • spoons
  • food coloring
  • paint brushes

  1. You will need one bowl for each color you are making. Pour in a small amount of corn syrup. We used about 1 tablespoon per bowl.
  2. Add a few drops of food coloring to each bowl and mix with a spoon. We used 3 drops each of red, yellow, blue, neon green, and neon purple.
  3. Draw your design onto paper using a crayon. Glossy art paper was recommended by the original poster, but I had poster board and paper plates on hand, and both worked fine.
  4. Fill in design by painting with corn syrup.
  5. {The end result is a glossy raised texture that resembles pottery glaze.}
  6. Allow to dry. (This takes a long time... Some of ours were still smudged easily after 24 hours.)
{I painted the design on a paper plate, allowed to dry, and then cut into an egg shape. Note: The colors do run together so less intricate designs may work better.}

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Call of the Wild

We have a recent, unwelcome guest at our house, whom Brett and I have nicknamed "Woody." (And don't let the fact that we named him fool you into thinking we enjoy having him around; he's really a bit of a pest and we wish he would just go away.) Early last week, the noise started. At the time I thought was a metallic grinding coming from the basement and it scared me to go down there because I wasn't sure what I would find (or how expensive it would be to fix). Once I got downstairs, I realized it wasn't mechanical at all, but more of a rhythmic rat-a-tat-tat that was occasionally followed by what sounded like frantic chirping. Oh, great, I thought. We have an animal caught in the duct work. As I listened more, I decided that it had to be a woodpecker, and although the sound carried down to the basement, it was coming from up high. I hoped this would be a temporary annoyance, since I figured he was looking for food, and he would leave once he realized we had no bugs in any metal things on top of the house (or at least none that I am aware of).

While I was traveling with my parents to Minnesota for my sister-in-law's baby shower, Brett sent me the following text message which made me laugh: "Tennis ball 1 Woodpecker 0 until he comes back." I explained to my parents how this woodpecker kept coming back and we laughed about how dumb he was. The joke's on us though. It would seem that our feathered guest isn't leaving anytime soon. After talking to his parents about a similar experience they had, Brett learned that "Woody" isn't looking for food at all, but rather, he is looking for a mate. Oh great, I thought. He's going to be with us all spring unless he happens to get lucky enough to find a girlfriend, and then maybe they will honeymoon elsewhere. (I don't even want to think about the alternative being that he will find true love and before you know it, we'll have a whole family of woodpeckers knocking on the house.)

I actually haven't seen "Woody," but Brett has chased him off a few times by hurling a tennis ball in his general direction. He even reports that the bird actually knows what is coming when he sees him and now flies off as soon as he pulls him arm back to aim the ball. It seems like he should get the message and find somewhere else to look for love, but apparently, woodpeckers are a bit territorial. Brett may need to update his statistics since he actually slipped off the deck and hurt himself while trying to chase "Woody" away yesterday morning. (Unfortunately, I am still working on the removing the grass and dirt stains from his nice lavender work shirt; it may also be listed as a casualty of the war against "Woody.")

As frustrating as it is to have a resident woodpecker, I am starting to think more along the lines of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." So, if anyone has a Barry White CD I can borrow, it may just help one lonely bird in his quest for love. And if this relieves us of our unwanted house guest, "Woody" will not be the only one to thank you.